How A Navy SEAL Helped Me

How A Navy SEAL Helped Me

A book written by a Navy SEAL has changed my routine and approach to life.

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Like almost everyone, I struggle with anxiety and attaining my goals. I attempt to be efficient with my time management and live a balanced life. I would assume that everyone is trying to do the same thing. But it seems like the anxiety is always there and we find ourselves not attaining our goals. The same problems keep popping up.

That is one reason why self-help books are popular. They offer answers on how to reduce anxiety and effectively plan your goals. I have not read that many and I have no idea which ones are a waste of time or helpful. Yet I have read one that I did not expect to help me. That book is "The Way of the Seal" by Mark Divine.

Mark Divine is a former Navy SEAL. The chapters in the book are numbered based off of eight principles for leading, living and planning in your life. At one point I would have thought "no offense, but what does a highly-trained soldier have to teach me about my own life issues and struggles." One of my closest friends listens to another former SEAL by the name of Jocko Willink, who has an online podcast. My friend's lifestyle and mindset changed for the best as he continued listening to it. He was more positive and motivated to take on the day. This made me more willing to read Divine's book when I received it as a Christmas present.

I have read through the whole book once and am now rereading it. What this former SEAL had to offer stunned me. Most of the struggles he had through life I related to. Specifically, I had a tendency to get fearful of stepping out of my comfort zone and taking risks. I also was very pessimistic about the future and potential scenarios. The one that I connected to most was how anxiety clouds judgment in a situation where one needs a clear mind to react. My point is that I related more to this man than I would have thought.

Divine shares stories from his own experience and people that he has met. They can range from hilarious to life or death situations. He also references famous leaders and ancient warrior groups (like the Spartans or Apache). Through it all, he stresses the practice of meditation, making positive thinking a habit, and winning in your mind in order to win the battle. I know that meditation gets associated with eastern religions, but Divine's meditations are not religious in nature. They relieve stress and help one to clear their mind. In fact, for me as a Christian, I have adapted these meditations to my religious living and it has helped me to grow in my beliefs. But if you just use meditation solely the way Divine recommends, it is not a religion. Look at it as a regular exercise to improve mental health. Divine also suggests ways to transform negative thoughts into positive ones that motivate you to make it through the day. This is probably the one I have struggled with the most. But his ideas work and I am implementing these practices into my lifestyle.

Another big theme of his book is on being an effective leader and making your group or organization successful. This is one that I have yet to implement in my life since I am not established in a long term career yet. But I plan on it since his suggestions on mental health and lifestyle have helped me significantly. I find myself less anxious about my life, especially with all of the transitions every college student experiences. I have more peace and contentment. I have learned to create my own personal schedule so that I devote enough time to school and to stress-relieving activities.

I am not saying that I have perfectly mastered all of the principles in the book. Yet the wisdom I have gained from it has changed me for the best. The one change I have observed in myself is that I have taken more risks in my life. Even though those decisions may cause criticism, it is liberating to make them. Fear no longer weighs me down as much as it has in my life. What is interesting is that this book came into my life at a perfect time, which makes me believe it was not a coincidence. I would go so far as to say that God brought this book to me. I have never met Mark Divine in person. If I do, I will tell him how much his book impacted me and that I am now striving to earn my personal trident every day. I hope that one year from now, my character and behavior will show others the benefits of the Way of the SEAL.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Poetry On Odyssey: Some Days

A poem that reminds you that you're not alone.

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Some days,

You dread the sound of your alarm. You snooze and snooze and snooze and snooze.

When you finally pull yourself out of bed, pressed time forces you to throw on stained sweats

you find yourself chugging a cup of coffee.

You sit on the couch and contemplate calling out of work

You caught the stomach bug,

Or perhaps the flu,

Maybe you broke your collar bone

Or need a new phone

The endless list of excuses repeats through your head as you sit on the couch, wishing you were still in bed.

It takes every ounce

Every breath

Every fiber of your being to pull yourself off the couch

And into the car

And into the building where you work

Some days,

This is just how it goes

You are not alone.


Some days,

You awake to the beautiful sound of birds

Chirping outside your window

The sun sneaks its way into your room

A smile creeps across your face as you realize you are awake to see a new day

You make a good breakfast

You read a few pages of your favorite book

You get your mind ready for the things it will accomplish today

Before you know it you've worked an entire day

Your job is done

As you pull into your driveway,

you take a few breaths

Feeling grateful for another meaningful day.

Some days,

This is how it goes

You are not alone.


Every day is a gamble,

Every day is a gift

The key to getting more good days

Is believing that everyday is one.

You are not alone, this is just how it goes.

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